Ambivalence Toward the Jewish State, Rather Than Poverty, Might Be the Cause of Rising Israeli-Arab Crime Rates

For several weeks, a recurring theme in Israeli headlines has been endemic crime and rising murder rates in Arab towns and neighborhoods in Israel. Prevalent crime leads to a growing sense of lawlessness, and is taking a human toll on the victims and their families. Although these victims are themselves overwhelmingly Arab, there are indications that the same lawlessness gave rise to the anti-Jewish riots that broke out in the spring. Martin Sherman writes:

The sense of despair and danger has generated an “#Arab Lives Matter” campaign—in an evident attempt to mimic the #BlackLivesMatter (BLM) movement in the United States. But . . . unlike the BLM initiative in the U.S., Israel’s Arab leaders are calling for increased—not decreased—police presence.

Despite the fact that Israel’s deputy police commissioner Jamal Hakrush is a Muslim Arab, Arab leaders have discouraged young Israeli Muslims from enlisting in the police—as Christian Arabs and Druze do. . . . Perversely, Arab lawmakers who bewail police inaction oppose setting up police stations in Arab towns. Thus, Ayman Odeh, head of the Joint Arab List, asserted: “More police stations are not necessary.” Another Joint List parliamentarian, Yousef Jabareen, declared, “We see the police as part of the oppression mechanism in Israel.”

Harkush is one of many Arabs who disagree with these parliamentarians. But what of the argument that the underlying causes of the crime wave are poverty and lack of resources? Sherman writes:

Firstly, there is an apparent overstatement of the level of poverty that prevails in Israel in general, and in the Arab sector in particular. [Moreover], despite accusations that they are subject to prejudice and suspicion from their Jewish counterparts, which diminish their chances for advancement and employment, Arab Israelis attend Israeli universities and other academic institutions in significant numbers, with a particularly steep rise in the last decade.

But concern over economic disparities has led successive Israeli governments to funnel money into Arab communities, with paradoxical results. Sherman cites an Arab lawyer who pointed out that, “municipality heads were always targeted by criminal organizations,” but following the legislation that has directed billions of dollars into the Arab sector in the past six years, “as more money has been spent on local authorities, the local authorities have become a larger prize.”

Nor is Sherman inclined toward such chauvinistic explanations as the suggestion that “Arab culture” is simply more violent. He concludes:

While it is true that the violent crime wave in Arab-Israeli society cannot be ignored and requires greater and more muscular intervention by state authorities, it is a problem that is unlikely to be adequately addressed without some profound soul-searching by Arab Israelis themselves, and greater identification with the state in which they live and with the institutions whose protection they seek. In the absence of such change, the current criminal surge could easily morph into interethnic conflict and civil war.

Read more at JNS

More about: Israeli Arabs, Israeli politics, Joint List, Police

While Israel Is Distracted on Two Fronts, Iran Is on the Verge of Building Nuclear Weapons

Iran recently announced its plans to install over 1,000 new advanced centrifuges at its Fordow nuclear facility. Once they are up and running, the Institute for Science and International Security assesses, Fordow will be able to produce enough highly enriched uranium for three nuclear bombs in a mere ten days. The U.S. has remained indifferent. Jacob Nagel writes:

For more than two decades, Iran has continued its efforts to enhance its nuclear-weapons capability—mainly by enriching uranium—causing Israel and the world to concentrate on the fissile material. The International Atomic Energy Agency recently confirmed that Iran has a huge stockpile of uranium enriched to 60 percent, as well as more enriched to 20 percent, and the IAEA board of governors adopted the E3 (France, Germany, UK) proposed resolution to censure Iran for the violations and lack of cooperation with the agency. The Biden administration tried to block it, but joined the resolution when it understood its efforts to block it had failed.

To clarify, enrichment of uranium above 20 percent is unnecessary for most civilian purposes, and transforming 20-percent-enriched uranium to the 90-percent-enriched product necessary for producing weapons is a relatively small step. Washington’s reluctance even to express concern about this development appears to stem from an unwillingness to acknowledge the failures of President Obama’s nuclear policy. Worse, writes Nagel, it is turning a blind eye to efforts at weaponization. But Israel has no such luxury:

Israel must adopt a totally new approach, concentrating mainly on two main efforts: [halting] Iran’s weaponization actions and weakening the regime hoping it will lead to its replacement. Israel should continue the fight against Iran’s enrichment facilities (especially against the new deep underground facility being built near Natanz) and uranium stockpiles, but it should not be the only goal, and for sure not the priority.

The biggest danger threatening Israel’s existence remains the nuclear program. It would be better to confront this threat with Washington, but Israel also must be fully prepared to do it alone.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy